Many of us will have fewer people around the Thanksgiving table this year. And while we’ll miss the loved ones who aren’t appearing in person, smaller groups can sometimes translate into less stress in the kitchen.
No need for mountains of mashed potatoes and buckets of gravy. Perhaps this year you can pare the meal down to foods you really enjoy. The dishes that make Thanksgiving, well, Thanksgiving. For my family it’s turkey and stuffing, with sweet potatoes running a close third.
And while we’re at it, maybe there’s a way to make cleanup easier, too.
Welcome to a sheet-pan Thanksgiving.
The beauty of this plan is that it’s extremely flexible and can be adjusted to make your family happy.
It starts with stuffing. My family likes a mixture of cornbread, French bread (which gives the stuffing some texture and keeps it from getting too mushy), sausage and herbs. It’s simple but addictive, particularly when cooked beneath the herb-roasted turkey breast — with a little extra oven time while the turkey rests to give it a crusty top.
If you have a favorite stuffing, feel free to substitute the one in this recipe for your own.
If white meat is not your favorite part of the bird, go ahead and top your stuffing with legs and thighs. Just be sure to adjust the oven time, as they may not take as long to cook as a large breast.
My sheet pan also includes baked sweet potatoes, which takes a fraction of the time and effort of a casserole. It is Thanksgiving, though, so we’re turning these sweet potatoes into something holiday-worthy by topping them with an easy and decadent brown butter, brown sugar and pecan sauce.
If you’d like to add marshmallows, once everything else has cooked go ahead and top your sauced sweet potatoes with a few marshmallows and pop them back on the sheet pan for a quick minute or two in the oven to let the marshmallows get toasty.
To round out the meal, I’m roasting Brussels sprouts and mushrooms and tossing them with a little balsamic vinegar at the end.
If you prefer green beans or carrots, no problem, just adjust the time, as green beans cook more quickly, and carrots, depending on their size, can take longer.
If mashed potatoes and gravy are non-negotiables, you’ll have loads of time to make them, as the rest of the meal is so easy, but why not let a local restaurant or grocery store fill out the menu? Maybe they could also help with the cranberry sauce and a pie or two. After all, a little help is OK. You deserve it.
Thanksgiving Sheet-Pan Dinner
Serves 2 (with generous leftovers) to 4.
Moist turkey, flavorful cornbread stuffing, roasted vegetables and baked sweet potatoes with an out-of-this-world brown butter praline sauce is done mostly on one sheet pan in about 2 hours with very little fuss. All you need is your favorite cranberry sauce and a pie or two to complete this easy but impressive Thanksgiving Day dinner. From Meredith Deeds.
Note: The stuffing can be made with store-bought cornbread, which can be on the sweeter side. If you don’t care for that level of sweetness, consider making your own. Typically there’s an easy recipe on the back of most cornmeal boxes; just omit the sugar.
Roasted Turkey Breast With Cornbread Sage Stuffing:
• 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, divided
• 8 oz. bulk breakfast or sage pork sausage
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 4 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage leaves, divided
• 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, divided
• 1 3/4 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 3 c. cubed cornbread)
• 4 c. cubed (11/2-in.) day-old French baguette
• 1 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken stock
• 1 bone-in, skin-on turkey breast half (3 to 4 lb.), patted dry
Brown Butter Pecan Praline Baked Sweet Potatoes:
• 4 small sweet potatoes
• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1/3 c. brown sugar
• 2 tbsp. heavy cream
• Pinch of salt
• 1/3 c. chopped toasted pecans
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms:
• 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
• 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and halved
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray an 18- by 13-inch rimmed sheet pan with cooking spray. Place a 15- by 12-inch piece of heavy-duty foil on pan; spray with cooking spray.
In a 4-quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add sausage and onion; cook, stirring, for 7 to 10 minutes, until sausage is no longer pink. Add 3 tablespoons of the sage, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper; cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Add cornbread and baguette cubes and broth to sausage mixture. Stir to combine.
Mound stuffing in center of foil on sheet pan.
In small bowl, mix remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter, 1 tablespoon sage, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Rub the butter mixture all over turkey breast, and place breast on top of stuffing. Pull up all four sides of foil around stuffing and turkey breast and move to one side of pan. Place sweet potatoes on other half of pan.
Roast for 45 minutes. Check the sweet potatoes and remove them if they are tender, and loosely cover the breast with foil if it’s browning too quickly. Continue to roast for another 15 to 45 minutes (depending on the size of the breast), until skin is crisp and golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees, and sweet potatoes (if they are still baking) are tender when pierced in center with fork. Remove pan from oven; transfer turkey breast to a cutting board. Move sweet potatoes to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Return stuffing to the oven to brown the top. Let turkey stand 20 minutes before carving.
While turkey is cooking, prepare the praline sauce. In a small saucepan, cook 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until melted. Continue to cook for 1 to 3 minutes or until butter is lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar, cream and pinch of salt and bring to boil. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened, and then stir in pecans. Remove from heat and set aside.
Just before the turkey comes out of the oven, in medium bowl, add Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange vegetables on other side of sheet pan, opposite stuffing (without the turkey, which has been transferred to a cutting board). Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until the vegetables are browned and tender. Check the stuffing after 10 minutes and remove if the top has browned.
Transfer the stuffing to a serving bowl. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.
Reheat the praline sauce. Make a slit in the sweet potatoes and squeeze ends to open. Spoon some of the warm sauce into each sweet potato.
Carve turkey and serve with stuffing, vegetables and sweet potatoes.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.